A group of midsized, moderately-priced family cars outperformed their more expensive, luxury-car counterparts in a new round of safety testing.

Crash tests carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety measured how 29 different makes and models of vehicle performed when put through small overlap frontal crash tests, which is a common type of accident, but one rarely simulated in crash tests.

Of the 18 midsize family cars tested, 13 earned good or acceptable scores. By contrast, just three of the 11 midsize luxury cars earned the same ratings.

"It's remarkable that this group of midsize family cars did so much better than the midsize luxury car group," said IIHS president Adrian Lund in a statement. "The difference is stunning. Thirteen of these midsize cars offer better crash protection than all but three of their luxury counterparts."

Of the midsize family cars tested, the Honda Accord 4-door and the Suzuki Kizashi came out on top, earning a "good" rating. Among luxury cars, the Infiniti G class, the Volvo S60 and the Acura TL led the pack.

One of the best-selling cars in North America, the Toyota Camry, earned a poor rating in the tests, as did the Toyota Prius V hybrid wagon.

"Toyota has a real challenge now for its engineers to work on this issue," said Russ Rader, of the IIHS.

The top performers in the latest round of testing earned the IIHS' Top Safety Pick+ award. The award recognizes vehicles that perform well in the small overlap crash tests -- where 25 per cent of a car’s driver-side front end strikes a five-foot tall rigid barrier at 65 km/h.

The test, newly introduced by the IIHS, replicates what happens when a car collides with another object, such as a hydro pole or another vehicle.

Rader said the results show that paying more for a vehicle doesn’t necessarily guarantee a greater level of safety.

"It's good news in this group of midsize family cars that you don't have to spend a lot of money to get good safety,” Rader told CTV’s Canada AM.

More than 10,000 people are killed each year in North America from frontal crashes. Of those, the IIHS estimates roughly one-quarter of all deaths and serious injuries result from so-called small overlap crashes.

"This is a test we think will drive some major improvements in the structures of vehicles to better protect people in these crashes," Rader said.

Following are the winners of the 2013 Top Safety Pick+ award:

Midsize moderately-priced cars:

  • Dodge Avenger
  • Chrysler 200 4-door
  • Ford Fusion
  • Honda Accord 2-door
  • Honda Accord 4-door
  • Kia Optima
  • Nissan Altima 4-door
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Outback
  • Suzuki Kizashi
  • Volkswagen Passat

Midsize luxury, near luxury cars

  • Acura TL
  • Volvo S60

Under the midsize, moderately priced category, the Chevy Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen Jetta sedan, Toyota Camry, Toyota Prius V, Audi A3, Buick Verano and Volvo C30 all earned the Top Safety Pick award, meaning they scored well in all areas except the small overlap frontal test.

Of all midsize, moderately priced cars tested, the Mazda 6, Nissan Maxima and Ford Mustang 2-door received the lowest scores on the crash tests.

In the luxury category, the Acura TSX, Acura TSX Sport Wagon, BMW 3 series, Volkswagen CC, Audi A4, Mercedes C-class and Lexus ES 350 all achieved the Top Safety Pick award.

Of all the luxury midsize cars tested, the Lincoln MKZ, Infiniti G, Lexus ES 350 and Lexus IS 250/350 received the lowest scores in the crash tests.